An Arizona man has been ordered to pay $16,500 in child support, medical bills, and interest for a child conceived when he was raped a decade ago.
Nick Olivas, who had sex with a 20-year old woman at the age of 14, did not realize he had a child until the state demanded child support two years ago. He says that he's willing to pay child support going forward, but does not feel that he owes payments for the time that he was unaware of his fatherhood.
In Arizona, the age of consent is 15 years old. According to the director of the National Center for Men, Mel Feit, this makes Olivas not responsible for the child. Feit compared Olivas to a woman who was raped. “The idea that a woman would have to send money to a man who raped her is absolutely off-the-charts ridiculous. It wouldn't be tolerated, and it shouldn't be tolerated,” he told the Arizona Republic.
However, in Arizona, child support exemptions do not exist unless the support-seeking parent is guilty of sexual assault or sexual assault of a minor. Because Olivas did not press charges — something he says he did not think was an option at 14 — he is being held responsible.
While Olivas' case is not common, it is reminiscent of cases that have garnered significant headlines over the last quarter-century. A 2010 analysis of similar situations at AVoiceForMen.com found that California, Kentucky, Alabama, and Colorado have pursued child support from men who were raped. One case involved a 14-year old boy in Kentucky whose rapist was never charged, but a prosecutor still assisted the woman in her effort to get child support.
The analysis notes that in American society “mothers are also permitted to give up their children for adoption, no questions asked, should they not want their children. In no case is a woman forced to raise or pay for a child conceived during a rape.”
“But this is not the case with fathers.”
The Arizona Republic cites a 1993 Kansas Supreme Court case where a 13-year old boy impregnated his babysitter, then 17. Even though he was two years below the age of consent, the boy was considered liable for child support. Feit said this was because “the Kansas court determined that the rape was irrelevant and that the child support was not owed to the rapist but rather to the child.”
The state has taken money from Olivas’ bank account, and has garnished his wages to the tune of $380 per month. He is also fighting to meet his child.